Op-ed by Marie Tasy
The NJ Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848) is a radical, draconian bill with multiple components that ignores science, endangers the lives of women, increases the number of taxpayer funded abortions. It will deprive the right of NJ citizens to vote on one of the most important human rights issues of our time. It also seeks to obstruct future legislatures’ authority to pass laws in accord with evolving advances in medicine, science, and technology.
Ultrasound technology allows us to view a prenatal baby in utero at the earliest stages of their life. Thanks to this technology, we can clearly see that these human babies are alive and wholly distinct, individual human beings. The NJ Reproductive Act disregards this truth and instead states that they “shall have no independent rights under the laws of this state,” stripping these prenatal humans of their life and dignity through inhumane procedures that would not be tolerated if they were done to a cat or dog. Because the Act is noticeably silent on any gestational limits, the Act will permit these abortions to be performed during all stages of pregnancy, even if these babies are viable and at full-term. This is clearly not a position supported by most New Jersey citizens.
New Jersey already has the shameful distinction of having the highest abortion rate in the U.S., after the District of Columbia, and we also have one of the most permissive abortion laws in the nation. Some of the few safety protections that are in effect will be completely eradicated by this Act. The Act codifies recent proposed rule changes by the NJ Board of Medical Examiners dealing with termination of pregnancy, which include the requirement that only physicians licensed to practice medicine and surgery can perform abortions. These changes will permit non-physicians to perform abortions and sets no limits on the performance of an abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
Since the Act says it should be liberally construed and completely voids these regulations and any other statute or laws that conflict with the Act’s purpose, it will also eliminate the safety requirement that abortions be performed in a licensed hospital after 14 weeks gestation, and the rules regarding the disposal of fetal tissue, opening the floodgates for a lucrative market in the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts and organs. This legislation will also invalidate the long-standing Conscience Clause law for health care workers, forcing them to now perform and assist in abortions even if it goes against their religious, moral or philosophical beliefs.
Currently, a disproportionate number of abortions in New Jersey are performed on women of color. This Act will sadly increase the number of minority babies whose lives end daily in abortion and further place the lives of minority women and their subsequent pregnancies in danger, leading to more maternal and infant mortalities. The sponsors claim they introduced the bill to ensure that all New Jerseyans have access to abortion, but the Act says residents, non-residents, minors, and those who are incarcerated, regardless of where they are domiciled, can get an abortion. Not only will this make NJ a national refuge for sex traffickers and others who exploit and abuse minors by bringing them to NJ to get an abortion, but it will also attract those who will do so from outside our U.S. borders as well.
The Act “exempts prosecution for individuals terminating or attempting to terminate the individual’s own pregnancy; or acting or failing to act in any manner with respect to the individual’s own pregnancy, based on the potential or actual impact on the individual’s own health or pregnancy.” Additionally, the bill eliminates the requirement that a medicolegal death investigation be conducted in a case where “a fetal death occurs without medical attendance.” Whether it was the sponsors’ intentions or not, these and other sections in the Act are so sweeping that they can be interpreted to prevent prosecution for the infanticide of a newborn infant, which will nullify the effectiveness of New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Law.
Lastly, the Act will require all NJ health insurance companies and policies to cover abortions with no deductibles, no-co-insurance and no co-payments. If the Act becomes law, NJ taxpayers will be footing the bill for “individuals who are incarcerated, are living in government-funded institutions or are otherwise under governmental control or supervision” as well as “residents and those who come into the state” as stated in the Act.
The Act is an extreme bill that should be soundly rejected. We urge every citizen to please contact their State Senator and 2 Assembly members and urge them to Vote No on S3030/A4848. Additional information on this legislation can be found on our website, www.njrtl.org